Vernon Wells knows well the feeling of being harassed by the hometown fans at every turn, being booed for every lame pop-up or strikeout.
So he can empathize better than most with what his teammate, Lyle Overbay, is going through.
"I've been there, done that," the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse leader said Tuesday afternoon in the aftermath of an 11-2 pounding of the Minnesota Twins at Rogers Centre.
Wells continued his solid season at the plate, stroking his 11th homer, one of four the major league home-run-leading team totalled in the contest to tame the Central Division-leading Twins before 27,981 spectators, the second-largest home crowd of the year.
Afterward, Wells leapt to the defence of Overbay, who was the object of derision by the hometown fans during Monday's game, in which he made a couple costly errors in the fourth inning that helped the Twins forge an 8-3 victory.
"I think it's easy to get down on people and try to beat up people when they're struggling," said Wells, in what was an obvious broadside at Toronto's fickle baseball fans. "I think it shows a lot more character when you're able to stay behind people no matter what they're going through.
"I think it's something we do in this clubhouse. No matter what, we're here to support him. It would be nice if everyone was on board with that."
In Tuesday's game, Overbay - who has struggled at the plate all season - rebounded with a home run and a double in four at-bats, driving in three of the Toronto runs.
Edwin Encarnacion, playing in his first game after being activated off the disabled list, smacked a two-run shot in his first at-bat, in the second inning.
Aaron Hill counted Toronto's fourth homer of the day, a three-run drive in the sixth.
Behind yet another dominating pitching performance by Shaun Marcum, it all made for a rather easy afternoon for the Blue Jays (24-17), who wound up splitting the two-game set with the Twins (24-15).
Although Overbay was cheered roundly by the fans for his efforts on Tuesday, he was in no mood to talk afterward.
"I'll make it easy on you guys," Overbay said as he was approached by a group of reporters. "No comment."
"It would be nice to come in here and [have]it feel like a home park and be supportive no matter what," Wells added.
Wells has been on the receiving end of plenty of fan abuse over the past several seasons, in which he battled through various injuries, watching his offensive numbers shrink in the process.
This season, healthy at last, Wells has rebounded in a big way.
His third-inning home run on Tuesday was No. 203 of his career, pushing him past George Bell and tying him with Joe Carter for second on the Blue Jays all-time list.
Carlos Delgado is Toronto's home-run king, notching 336 during his career with the Blue Jays. Wells has hit 11 home runs in 41 games, the fastest he has achieved that number in a season - quicker even than in 2003, when he swatted a career-high 33.
That year, Wells did not hit his 11th until the 42nd game.
"I don't consider myself a power hitter," said Wells, who has driven in 32 runs on the season and is batting .316. "I try to be consistent with contact and hopefully that will take care of some balls.
"You take them [home runs]when you can get them."
Turning point: Edwin Encarnacion, activated by Toronto from the disabled list earlier in the day and playing in his first game since April 14, made the most of his return. In his first at-bat in the second inning, the third baseman stroked a two-run home run to left-centre that staked the Blue Jays to a 4-0 lead
Offensive player: Lyle Overbay, who was raked over the coals by the fans after Monday's error-laden performance, bounced back smartly with a double and a home run in four trips to the plate, driving in three of the Toronto runs.
Starting pitchers: Toronto's Shaun Marcum (3-1) was pitching with a heavy heart after the death of his grandmother earlier in the week. But Marcum was able to harness his emotions and deliver yet another impressive outing, allowing just five Minnesota hits and one run over a tidy seven innings of work. Cito Gaston said it is performances like that that always remind him of a conversation he had with Roy Halladay when he was rehired as the Blue Jays manager in 2008. "He said, 'Cito, this kid can really pitch. You're going to really enjoy watching this kid pitch.' " … Minnesota's Carl Pavano (4-4) was raked over by the Blue Jays batters for six runs off 10 hits, including two home runs over four innings of work.
Next game Wednesday, at Seattle Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (EDT)
Starters Toronto LHP Brett Cecil (2-2, 5.46 ERA) v. Seattle RHP Doug Fister (3-1, 1.72)
TV Rogers Sportsnet (Alt)
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